ST. GEORGE — One of the bills dealing with military affairs that would assist military spouses when they look for work passed the Utah Senate by unanimous vote Monday and is moving on to the House.
Introduced by Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, the proposed Preference in Private Employment, designated as SB 12 in the 2020 Legislature, would allow private employers who provide veterans preference in the hiring process to extend that consideration to their spouses.
Military spouses face unique employment challenges given their lifestyle. Depending on the spouse’s career of choice, it can often be hard to obtain employment when they find themselves stationed in a new town.
Weiler told St. George News the bill is designed to help military families who are typically assigned to a different duty station every two to three years.
“We already give preference for military personnel but not their spouses who have to quit their job every time they move,” he said.
The way it comes in “handy,” Weiler added, is that if two candidates are qualified for the same job, preference could be applied to either the service personnel or their spouse. This adds a level of protection to the employer, guarding against any claim of discrimination based on factors such as age, sex, race and years of experience.
“Because the spouse is always on the move it can really hurt their careers,” Weiler said.
Although Virginia Williams’ husband Sammel is no longer in the military, she said during his 28-year career in the U.S. Army the family moved many times, and it was hard finding work.
“A new city, a new base, it was always a challenge finding a job,” she said. “It was especially hard during the first handful of years. I hadn’t established myself in my career, and moving so much seemed to be a strike against me when I applied for jobs.”
Eventually, she added, things did get better with the dawn of the tech age.
“You think it would have been easy to find a job as a procurement analyst, even on base, but it wasn’t,” she said. “When the internet and email came around, things got better because I started to telecommute and do my job remotely.”
Williams said SB 12 would have helped her and that she supports the intention.
According to the legislative fiscal note, there is no financial impact to the state budget from SB 12.
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